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Festival Summit Workshop: The innovators

Festival Summit Workshop: The innovators

Host: Anna Sjölund, Live Nation Sweden (SE)

Guest speakers:
Jon Drape, Festival Safe (UK)
Tommy Jinho Yoon, Pentaport Rock Fest (KR)
Benjamin Levy, Paris & New York Heritage Festival (FR)
Jan Quiel, Seaside-Touring (ES)
Andrey Soldatkin, The Pulkovo Meridian Festival (RU)
Maarten van Vugt, Woo Hah (NL)
Michał J. Zazula, Tauron Life Festival Oświęcim (PL)

What’s at the cutting edge of festival innovation? That’s what a packed room at one of the first panels of ILMC 30 wanted to know.

Among those who shared their insights was Jan Quiel from Seaside-Touring – part of ICS, which runs Wacken Open Air – whose Full Metal Events offers heavy metal fans the chance to headbang on holiday. The company offers trips such as the Full Metal Mountain ski trip, and the five-day Heavy Metal Cruise – the last two of which sold out within 30 minutes.

This year it’s launching Full Metal Holiday in Majorca – a one-week trip, taking over a whole holiday resort for a week in October. During the day audiences will hang out at pool parties and lounge on the private beach, while in the afternoons concerts take place, with bands including Skindred, Kreator and Life of Agony. Packages are from €1,199, including flights and ground transport and  “very important for metal fans – drinks,” says Quiel.

Benjamin Levy, from France’s Paris & New York Heritage Festival explained the concept of his multi-city global events.

“We wanted to build a tribute to the African-American community and the legacy this culture has in the world,” he said. That means a programme of jazz, hip-hop, funk and soul artists.

Working with partners around the world, the festival started in Paris and New York, then grew to include Montreal and has now added Vancouver.  It’s grown from 6,000 people in 2016 to a predicted 20,000 in 2018.

The company is eyeing Asia and Brazil in the future, with a strategy to reach Africa by 2020.

The safety of audiences at festivals was on the mind of Jon Drape, from production company Ground Control in the UK, which is behind Rewind, Snowbombing, Truck, Broadwick Live, Park Life and others.

“Working with many festivals means I can look at trends that are being repeated across the portfolio, and what we found is despite huge investment in police, medics, welfare, and stewarding, festivals are not as safe as they could be – and part of that is down to the customer,” he said. “They need to do more to have a safe experience. We wanted to look at how we communicate with them around drink, drugs, use of camping gas, safe sex etc. Festivals have this info on their websites, but it’s not obvious.”

"...festivals are not as safe as they could be – and part of that is down to the customer”

The answer is Festival Safe, which will launch at the end of April. Not affiliated to any one event, it’s a portal festivals can signpost their customers to. It includes advice on what to bring, wellbeing, crime, drugs & alcohol, and looking after children. The portal will also contain material and slogans that festivals can use in their own campaigns and onsite too.

Tommy Jinho Yoon, from Pentaport Rock Fest in Korea – one of the first international festivals in the country – explained that his event is helping bring more global acts to the region by teaming up with Japanese promoter Creativeman.

“This creates a routing system, including doing tours,” he said. “We do the festival a week before SummerSonic in Japan, and China, to make it cost-effective.”

The camping festival has a permanent stage, and is supported by the local government. It attracts 20,000-25,000 people to three days of music. The line-up is 50/50 local artists and  international acts.

Another innovative event is The Pulkovo Meridian Festival in St Petersburg. Founder Andrey Soldatkin explained that the event is a cross between a science and music event, combining music (classical, rock, jazz, indie, folk) with observatory tours, theatrical performances, and exhibitions, at Polkovo Observatory – one of the largest and most famous in the world.

Many events with an eye on tourism claim to bring new audiences to an area, but few could compete with the perception-challenging format of Tauron Life Festival in the Polish city of Oświęcim – better known as Auschwitz. The festival’s Michał J Zazula, explained the concept behind the event is that everyone who came to the city only thought about death; but they wanted to show that there was another side to the area. “The festival is to connect people of different races, cultures and religions, and we speak the most universal language – music.”

The 18,000-capacity, two-day festival has featured artists such as Eric Clapton, Scorpions, Shaggy, Elton John, and Queen and Adam Lambert.

“Hip-hop is the new pop” proved Mojo Concerts’ Maarten van Vugt from the Netherlands, whose Woo Hah festival is the promoter’s fastest-growing event.  The festival, which combines hip-hop, RnB and urban sports, grew from 4,000-capacity in year one to a projected  30,000 this year.

“We’re a festival for the future,” said van Vugt. “We have a young audience – average age 22. We have a big focus on an international crowd, with 90% international artists and an audience from 32 countries including Belgium, the UK, USA, Germany and France.”

Other sessions in the Festival Summit series:
Festival Forum: Overjoyed or overblown?
Festival Summit: Artist fees

The Festival Summit 2018 was run in association with: